Happy Birthday Two You

Monday was my birthday.

Well, not really. But on Facebook it was my birthday – all part of a great social experiment, if you will. Three days later, I’m not sure how to feel about the results. On the one hand, I have a lot of well-meaning friends who serenaded me with heartfelt birthday wishes. But on the other, I learned that very few people actually know my real birthday. I was surprised how many forgot they had wished me a happy birthday less than two months earlier.

It all began a couple of weeks ago. A coworker and I were talking about the ramifications of economic recovery as it pertains to global trade in a free market environment…oh, who am I kidding? We were talking about some Facebook quiz on which Disney character best describes you (I got Mickey Mouse), and somehow the topic of birthdays and social media came up. Facebook, you are probably aware, informs your friends when your birthday rolls around, and they in turn usually post something to your wall. 21st-century technology, right? My coworker told me about a friend who changes his birthday every few months just to see how many people really know him. This, I thought, was a brilliant idea, especially for a prankster like me, so I stole it and changed my birthday from April 27 (real) to June 22 ( fake). And then promptly forgot I had done so, which made June 22nd really confusing when all these “happy birthday!” messages started popping up.

FB Birthday

Oh. Right. I figured somebody would catch on and spill the beans publicly, putting a quick end to my experiment. Only that never happened. All day long, happy sentiments rolled in. A few people wondered privately what was going on, but the majority never gave it a second thought. One close friend texted me birthday wishes; when I told her it wasn’t actually my birthday she replied, “But Facebook sez.”

I guess that pretty much sums it all up.

(I love you anyway, Heidi).

Soon, I was feeling guilty. People were being really, really nice to me. Saying how much they cherished our friendship and what an inspiration I have been and yadda, yadda. I had planned on letting the cat out of the bag, but by then I didn’t want to burst anybody’s goodwill bubble or hurt their feelings, so I just played along. I kind of ‘fessed up the next day…

Screenshot 2015-06-24 13.43.28

…but nobody took my “normal, ordinary day” stuff literally. Oh, well – I tried.

In the end, about 85 people wished me a happy birthday, which was – ironically – more than I got on my actual birthday. And these greetings seemed friendlier and more clever, as if people had put a little more thought into them.

Like I said: I don’t know what to think. I have conflicting emotions over the whole thing.

All I know is, I’m stuck with June 22 as a birthday now because Facebook won’t let me change it back. I guess the joke’s on me, after all.


I won’t dwell on it too long though, because we are headed out of town this afternoon for a much-needed vacation. The only downside? It’s going to be really hot everywhere. We’re going to Ely for a wedding and to visit Tara’s family, followed by a trip to Park City, Utah for a few days of R&R in a nice condo that is super cheap because it’s the offseason. We’ll get back home just in time for the 4th of July.

I’m sure I’ll be updating from the road ’cause that’s how I roll.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

20 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Two You

  1. I’ve been tempted for years to unofficially change my birthday from Dec. 29th to Jan. 29th so I could get some sort of recognition about actually having a birthday that is not part of Christmas and/or New Year. If you care anything about being recognized as having a ‘special day all about you’, having a birthday a week before or after Christmas is not the day to do so. I hate poinsettias, but every year my Boss would give me one for my birthday, after it had served as a centerpiece for the office holiday party.


    1. That makes a lot of sense. I’ve always felt bad for people like you, born so close to a major holiday. I also have a friend whose daughter was born on 9/11/2001. That’s a shame, too.


  2. I’m good with at least the month of people’s birthday, so I’m not sure I could be fooled. Once, I noticed on my feed that a FB friend kept getting birthday wishes and I knew it wasn’t anywhere near her March birthday. I finally went on her page and announced it was NOT her birthday, because it was bugging the hell out of me! Turns out, she was hacked and the person must have changed a bunch of stuff in her profile? Weird.

    Have a great vacation!


  3. That is pretty brilliant! My generation has been pretty spoiled when it comes to birthday wishes because of Facebook and I know for a fact I wouldn’t get as many wishes if it wasn’t for Facebook. It’s a little depressing to think about. Now I’m tempted to try it!


  4. “and changed my birthday from April 27 (real) to June 22 ( fake). And then promptly forgot I had done so, which made June 22nd really confusing when all these “happy birthday!” messages started popping up.”

    HAHAHAHA! Mark, that’s brilliant! However, if I was on Facebook, I probably would have let the cat out of the bag because I pretty much know the month that my friends are born because I’m so into astrology and know that you are Taurus; not a Cancer.

    I think it’s great that you trick everyone though!

    Have a faaaaaaabulous time on your vacay, buddy! Can’t wait to read all about it!

    Safe journey to you and Tara!


    1. “I’m so into astrology and know that you are Taurus; not a Cancer.”

      That was a dead giveaway for a couple of people who know very well that I am a Taurus! I’m pretty sure you would not have fallen for my little social experiment, Ron.

      My vacation was great and I know you have already read about it! Hope you had a nice 4th of July.


  5. I read this post the other day on my phone and did not comment then. Hard to type a comment one letter at a time. At any rate, this is hilarious. I’m one of the people who did NOT wish you a happy birthday, as I don’t pay enough attention to FB–whatever that would add up to. At any rate, hope you all are having a great trip.

    And just so you know. This summer I’m going on two-month RV trip with my nearing-ninety Godmother and her cat Pepe le Mew. I leave for the US in a week. The RV is huge, 37-feet. My Godmother will be driving and towing an SUV the entire way. She was a Flamenco dancer during her entire professional life. I’m going to try to blog about our trip and write a book about the 64 beautiful years she and my Godfather, a Venezuelan movie star (I kid you not!), were married, until Raul died last fall one month shy of his 97th birthday.

    Hope you all are, indeed, able to escape the heat! Sorry to have been away so long!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    1. This sounds like a ton of fun, Kathryn! Tara and I talk about buying an RV someday and spending a lot of time exploring the country. Knowing me, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about it along the way. Can’t wait to read more!


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